WAGONER — Yolanda Jones opened her front door with a smile.
She was happy to see John Jones of Brighter Futures Foundation dropping off food for her family one day this past week. Her grandchildren — 12-year-old Kamiah Sherman, 7-year-old Emmij Coleman and 2-year-old Addyson Powell — also came to the door.
With school being out because of the coronavirus pandemic, John Jones' organization is making sure the the town's children — and senior citizens — are being fed. Yolanda Jones, who is not related to John Jones, said seeing the arrival of food was a welcome sight.
"There are some people who don't have what they need, and this is a good service for them," she said.
Jones then saw Addyson was already sipping on milk out of a carton and smiled again.
"Look, she's drinking her milk," Jones said. "I'm happy and excited for these kids."
John Jones estimates 400 people are served daily. The food comes from the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank and through Wagoner Public Schools.
Volunteers gather at the Union Baptist Church, 511 S.W. Fifth St., each morning and fill plastic bags with enough food for breakfast, lunch and a snack each day.
"They opened their doors and allowed us to serve," Jones said. "To be able to utilize their church like this has been a real blessing, and we're able to make a real impact."
Sasha Edward is one of those volunteers who bags and then drops off the food. She knocks on a door, announces breakfast and lunch and moves on to the next address on her list. This becomes personal for her.
"I grew up in this apartment complex," she said looking over the area in the southwestern part of town. "It makes me feel pretty good to help and serve my community. I get to see a lot of kids. If it wasn't for us, they wouldn't get a meal. These are people I grew up with and their kids. It's a good feeling to help out."
Jones calls it a "community effort."
"It's just a sense of family of different races, colors and gender coming together to help fill a void," said Jacob Austin, Edward's fiance'. "It feels good to wake up each morning and get in this assembly line in God's name and feed people. It's like a spiritual moment for us."
Jones also has an eye on the immediate future.
"When we can start gathering in small groups again, we will be helping out with literacy," he said. "There's a great need for these kids."
For now, feeding children and others is the priority.
"We want the kids to know there someone that still cares," said Jones, the co-founder of Brighter Futures with Dr. Suzanne Salichs. "It's an invaluable service that we're able to do for our community."